Etymology Teacher Resources

English words can typically be traced back to their culture of origin—which, given the variety of words in the English language, can be anywhere in the world!

Focus on etymology early with an elementary lesson that uses word clues to explore word origin. An etymology project prompts middle schoolers to explore where selected words came from and how they arrived in the modern English language, while a high school curriculum guide focuses on dictionary and thesaurus skills, Greek and Latin roots, and domain-specific language.

Doubt the language of origin? Try out a video that investigates that rogue b in the word doubt, emphasizing that sound is never as important as a word’s history when determining its spelling. Delve more deeply into the mysteries of modern vernacular with another video, which discusses how many odd or irregular words in the English language don’t rely on English spelling or pronunciation patterns at all.

A strong knowledge of etymology can help with students’ spelling, vocabulary, and word usage. And at Lesson Planet, we’ve got a strong selection of etymological resources waiting for you!

Showing 107 resources
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Activity
Scholastic

What’s the Good Word? Etymology Project Guidelines

For Teachers 6th - 9th Standards
Who named the shapes, or the days of the week? Should words be removed from the dictionary if they're no longer commonly used? Are there too many words in the English language? Language arts students explore these and additional...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Word Origins

For Teachers 4th - 6th
Understanding a word's etymology can really help with decoding and building vocabulary skills. Readers compare and contrast words of similar origins but with different difficulty levels. They focus on prefixes, suffixes, and affixes....
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Etymology Adventures

For Teachers 9th - 12th
Students use the internet to research the field of Etymology. Using this information, they create a list of words they were unfamiliar with along with their origin. They complete numerous activities by reading and following directions.
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PPT
Saddleback College

The Wonder of Words

For Students 6th - 12th Standards
If your language arts students think etymology isn't relevant to their everyday lives, show them a presentation that will prove them wrong! The slideshow provides explanation about various words, roots, and suffixes that have adapted in...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Etymology

For Teachers 8th
Learners dissect and build words from parts like prefixes, base words, suffixes, and inflectional endings. Etymology skills help us find the meanings of words by identifying the different parts that constitute them. Class members use...
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PPT
Curated OER

Etymology: A Mini-Lesson on Teaching a Word's History

For Teachers 8th - 11th
As you're reading The Hobbit with your class, show them the etymology of the word attercop. This presentation would benefit with some additional examples or with a practice slide that offers a list of words from the book that pupils must...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Unlocking New Words: Partner Presentations

For Teachers 4th - 9th
Following extensive modeling about how to apply word analysis and vocabulary skills to learn new words, partner teams create brief word presentations to teach new vocabulary to the class. Preselect words from upcoming social studies,...
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Activity
Curated OER

Thinking Spelling

For Teachers K - 6th Standards
An etymology resource is packed with suggestions for activities designed to build phonological, visual, morphemic, and etymological spelling skills.
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

New Year's Etymology and Writing Activity

For Teachers 3rd - 6th
Students investigate the history and etymology of New Year's Day. They listen to a teacher-led lecture about the background of New Year's Day, design an image of Janus, and write a story in the first person telling what Janus might say...
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Instructional Video3:28
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TED-Ed

Why Is There a "b" in Doubt?

For Students 7th - 12th Standards
Many doubt the reasoning for having a b in doubt, but do they know the whole story? Pupils can watch as a Latin word becomes the English doubt. The narrator explains the etymology of doubt, emphasizes the importance of meaning and...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Who Invented English Anyway?

For Teachers 7th - 9th
In these English lesson plans, students use video, the Internet and non-fiction essays to research the history of the English language. They write a short research paper and design a PowerPoint presentation showcasing their findings.
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Mythological Word Origins

For Teachers 9th - 10th
No wonder the ship was called the Titanic. An investigation of Norse, Roman, and Greek Mythology provides insight into mythological characters and corresponding words in the English language. A close look at roots, prefixes, and suffixes...
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Instructional Video1:34
Curated OER

Mysteries of Vernacular: Odd

For Students 7th - 12th Standards
Odd, isn’t it, that even when you think you know how to match a word with its definition, you learn that some meanings are at odds with others, that some subject fields devise interpretations that don’t correspond with others, and that...
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Activity
Florida Center for Reading Research

Vocabulary: Word Meaning, Word Clues

For Teachers 4th - 5th Standards
Young learners develop a deeper understanding of target vocabulary. In pairs, pupils independently complete a series of word clue cards, asking them to find information about key terms, including their definitions, synonyms, antonyms,...
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Worksheet
Curated OER

Connection to Language Arts-Hidden Meanings

For Students 8th - 10th
In this etymology learning exercise, students read about the history of naming words and how words are named. They think critically by answering three questions about the meaning of words, etymologies and the derivation of words.
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Root Words from Greek and Roman Gods' Names

For Teachers 7th - 12th
Prepare a stack of index cards with a Greek or Roman god's name on one side and their description on the other. Then, use the worksheet attached to brainstorm as many words that contain the root from each card. Pupils also create their...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Internet Adventures

For Teachers 6th - 8th
Young scholars explore where words come from. Every word had a beginning--- a birth. They use the internet and go to a web site given by the teacher to take a quiz on word origins, students are allowed to use dictionaries.
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Language Change: The Origins of Names

For Teachers 9th - 12th
In small groups or pairs, learners explore the origins of each others' names. An awesome idea, but you'll need to do the initial research to gather your class's names and their origins. Or, consider having each member of your class...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Dragonwings: Evaluate Chapters 10-12

For Teachers 6th - 8th
As your class finishes the novel Dragonwings, use these culminating projects. A vocabulary list is given for chapters eleven and twelve and either an epitaph or letter activity concludes the book. The final project consists of creating a...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Using Word Maps to Expand Vocabulary

For Teachers 6th - 8th
Looking for a good lesson on dictionary and word definition skills? The lesson presented here is for you! In it, learners utilize a worksheet, embedded in the plan, to record a word's definition(s), etymology, multiple meanings, related...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Speak Vocabulary Strategy

For Teachers 7th - 9th
A scarlet letter “V” stands for a desktop teaching vocabulary activity designed for Speak. Prior to reading Laurie Hales Anderson’s young adult novel, individuals sign up for a word, design a handout that illustrates the word, includes...
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Instructional Video4:28
Curated OER

The Story of 'True'

For Students 7th - 12th Standards
The history of the English language is a long and winding road, forsooth. Here’s a short video that traces the truth about the history of the world true, from its Old English origins to modern usages. Consider generating a list of words...
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Lesson Plan
Curated OER

Etymology

For Teachers 3rd - 6th
Students tie together planet names with Greek mythology. Students browse thru a dictionary to see where exactly these names came from and what significance they have. Students explore the origins of some English words.
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Instructional Video1:55
Curated OER

Mysteries of Vernacular: Yankee

For Students 7th - 12th Standards
An American? Someone from New England? Anyone who lives north of the Mason-Dixon line? A New York baseball player? A dandy? A short video doodles around with the etymology of all an American word and how its meaning has evolved from 1601...

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